A very Pocho Christmas

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Growing up, I had a love-hate relationship with Christmas. I used to love the idea and what it represented, but hated the part about not getting as many presents as the other kids. I knew we couldn’t afford gifts outside of clothes and the occasional toy, so it wasn’t so much that as much as the pressure that came the next day, and especially when we returned to school where everyone was giving extended reports of all the great toys and other awesome presents they got for Christmas. 

My usual response to the metiche would be something like, “You know … clothes, some toys. Nothing special.” It was hard figuring out what felt worse: not getting any cool presents or being a mentiroso about it. 

That might be the reason that children of parents who grew up poor are often lavished with presents and oftentimes become the ones asking their not-so-fortunate schoolmates what they got for Christmas. It’s a vicious cycle. 

That’s precisely what has me a bit vexed as this holiday season approaches. We have a son who is almost two years old and who has a very good understanding of toys – he has a ton of them already, mostly from family members, especially from my in-laws, who understandably want to spoil their first grandchild. 

One recent Christmas, I witnessed a kid open one pretty awesome present after another. The adults were oohing and aahing, but the kid would promptly set aside each present after a quick inspection. It was almost as if the kid was looking for a golden ticket inside dozens of candy bars. Each present, lacking that golden-ticket appeal, registered the same on the excitement meter: meh. Did I mention they were all awesome presents? I wanted to take some of them in the next room and play with them – and they were girl’s toys. 

I was a bit horrified, but not at the kid. It wasn’t her fault; she was accustomed to receiving great gifts on a year-round basis, something that I and many other kids have never had the good fortune to experience. On that rare occasion when the presents went beyond a new pair of socks or maybe jeans and a nice new shirt, the buzz of a new toy would last until mid-January. 

And that’s a wonderful feeling, something every child should experience.

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